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WATCH: Olympics-inspired anime short ‘Tomorrow’s Leaves’ by Ghibli veterans

By Kara Santos Published Jul 28, 2021 3:47 pm

In celebration of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage has released Tomorrow’s Leaves, an anime short inspired by Olympic values. 

The hand-drawn short film was animated by Studio Ponoc, an animation studio founded by former Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura. “Ponoc” comes from the Croatian word “ponoć” meaning “midnight” or the beginning of a new day.

The short film is directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, who helmed Ni No Kuni (2019) and the Life Ain’t Gonna Lose short from the Modest Heroes (2018) anthology. The film, which has no dialogue, is set to music by composer Takatsugu Muramatsu, known for his previous collaborations with Ponoc founder Hiromasa Yonebayashi on such films as Mary and the Witch's Flower (2017) and When Marnie Was There (2014).


The magical animated short focuses on five young envoys from different lands who travel and meet one another on a mythical isle following the message of a dying leaf. 

As they traverse the island’s terrain guided by tiny spirits, they compete in light-hearted athletic games and help one another as they search for a way to return color and life back to the once vibrant world that is withering and crumbling.

The short, which originally premiered during the opening ceremony of the Annecy Festival in June, was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, which initially approached Studio Ponoc about the potential of producing a feature-length anime.

The short film aims to engage a broader international audience and reinforce the links between sport, culture and education that are fundamental to the Olympic Movement.

“We wanted to celebrate the Olympic spirit with an entirely new audience, especially young people, through a different kind of artistic project,” said Angelita Teo, Director of the OFCH. “To lead up to the cultural programme at Tokyo 2020, we decided to explore animation to express the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect. This film is a work of art to inspire future generations.”

Anime, which originated in Japan and has emerged as one of the country's cultural forces, has noticeably played a prominent role in this years’s edition of the Olympics, with various sporting events using soundtracks from popular anime shows, along with video game themes.

Tomorrow’s Leaves is available to watch for free on YouTube and the International Olympic Committee’s website.

Watch the full movie below.

(Images via Studio Ponoc/International Olympic Committee)